The Real Deal New York

Preservationists organize to save unlikely Brooklyn structure

The Midwood smokestack was once part of a silent film studio

November 02, 2014 04:00PM

Florence Turner, who was known as the Vitagraph Girl and the smokestack in Midwood

Florence Turner, who was known as the Vitagraph Girl and the smokestack in Midwood

An unusual structure has grabbed the attention of preservationists: a century-old smokestack in Midwood.

A group of neighborhood activists are organizing to save the tower, which was once part of a pioneering silent movie studio, but now faces demolition, according to the New York Daily News.

“What Brooklyn gave to American film history is still here,” Vince Giordano, a jazz musician who lives a block from the long dormant smokestack, told the Daily News. “This is an important part of history and it shouldn’t be torn down.”

The Vitagraph Company of America building opened in 1907 near Avenue M and 14th Street, with the smokestack serving a small power plant and incinerator on the site. Warner Brothers bought the studio in the mid-1920s.

The studio produced many important films of the silent era, adapting Shakespeare, producing war movies and cranking out comedies.

The building is now leased by the Shulamith School For Girls, an Orthodox Jewish day school.

“For us it is very basic. The building has been sold and their plan is not to keep it as is,” said Beth Kaplan, an executive assistant at the Shulamith School.

However, Avi Peison, a lawyer for the real estate firm Hampshire Properties, which owns the building and the smokestack, said: “There are no plans to do anything with the smokestack. Could that change? Of course.” [NYDN] – Christopher Cameron

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